CB Series 2011-12 March 5, 2012

Where have the yorkers disappeared?

Bowlers have been rather conservative with the use of the yorker in this tournament. They are more obliged to employ the slower, length balls
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It was an exhibition game in England in 1991. Wasim Akram was representing Rest of the World XI against an England XI. He began bowling length balls, and Kim Barnett, an attacking Derbyshire batsman who played five Tests for England, went after Akram at the start. It was just an exhibition game, and Akram wanted to preserve himself, but his pride took a beating. He began bowling yorkers, and Barnett eventually fell to Tony Dodemaide for 26.

As the World XI players waited for the new batsman to arrive, Akram told his team-mates, Sanjay Manjrekar one of them, how he didn't want to bowl those yorkers. When asked to verify that anecdote, Akram says, "Zor lagta hai yorker daalne mein [It takes a lot of effort to bowl yorkers]. It is easy to bowl bouncers. A bouncer is nothing in comparison."

And when Akram talks of yorkers, he means those speared in, swinging bullets landing on the crease. "You have to dig deep for those." A good, quick yorker takes as much effort as two or three normal deliveries. It was these yorkers that made it desperately difficult to score at more than a run a ball against bowlers the likes of Akram.

During the CB Series, even on the big fields of Australia, even two runs a ball hasn't looked safe for the bowling side in the last ten overs. Sri Lanka needed 18 off the last over in Perth, and Mitchell Starc bowled either length or the bouncer, and just about came out safe. In Adelaide, with 12 to defend in the last over, Clint McKay bowled length at various paces. When even Lasith Malinga hasn't relied that much on the basic yorker, what of the other bowlers?

Is it too harsh to say that the bowlers perhaps don't want to "dig deep"? Cricket has changed a lot. The schedules are hectic, there is too much to lose if you don't prolong your career, and it is possible that the bowlers want to preserve themselves. Malinga's body wears scars of the most difficult delivery bowled at the most difficult trajectory. He can't even play Test cricket now. How many bowlers want to go all out and bowl a spell full of yorkers?

But perhaps it will be a bit too harsh to look at it this way alone. Batting has changed too. Batsmen have found ways of countering yorkers. They go deep into the crease to convert them into half-volleys. They walk down the stumps and scoop them on the full. They make room and squeeze the ball past point. It is true that earlier there were fewer batsmen who did this - the Saleem Maliks, the Javed Miandads for instance.

Batsmen definitely play the yorker better than they did 10 years ago, but not so well that a slower length ball can replace the yorker as the most effective delivery at the death. Michael Clarke, a batsman himself, agrees. "Yeah, look I think the basic and simple yorker is still the best delivery at the death," Clarke says. "We continually look at Malinga, when he hits his yorker, doesn't matter what technique, theory, you have to score, it's the hardest ball to score off."

However, Clarke also sees merit in other variations, especially on the bigger fields in Australia. "For starters I think we have got to hit that yorker, but I think Shane Watson showed as well tonight that his change of pace is crucial," Clarke says. "It's such a big ground square of the wicket, the Gabba, you have got to be able to change the pace and get the batters hitting to the long parts of the ground."

Mahela Jayawardene, who captains the best bowler of the yorker today, also wants to use the longer boundaries. "Depending on situations, trying to get batsmen to hit into longer boundaries [as Watson did] with the change-ups [is important], which we did as well to a certain extent," Jayawardene said. "Different venues, different places, you need to come up with those ideas. That's the beauty of the game. Because we play each other so often, they know your strengths and weaknesses."

Either through reluctance or deterioration of skill or the lure of the fancy slower balls, an art from - a breathtaking sight of a batsman saving his toe from breaking - is dying.

Australia's main problem though with death bowling, which has driven Clarke up the wall, has been the absence of a bowler who can bowl eight to 10 yorkers in his last two overs, which will, in the worst case, go for 15-16 runs, and in the best scenario could pick up wickets for under 10 runs.

One example of this was when Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan bowled yorker after yorker on a runway in Rajkot in the 414-v-411 game, and defended 31 in the last five overs. Tim Southee did the same when Cameron White was in a hot and crazy pursuit of a 200-plus total in a Twenty20 at the 'lilliputian' Jade Stadium in Christchurch. Both were successful. In fact, we have reached a stage where most bowlers feel obliged to bowl a slower ball simply because they haven't bowled one for four-five deliveries.

That we clearly remember two incidents from the last two-three years is a clear indication that the yorker is not employed well or often enough. Either through reluctance or deterioration of skill or the lure of the fancy slower balls, an art from - a breathtaking sight of a batsman saving his toe from breaking - is dying. We need evidence against this notion.

Edited by Kanishkaa Balachandran

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Viz-from-OZ on | March 6, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    Did any of you see Malinga bowling his yorkers on one leg yesterday? It's more to do with the two new balls than anything, hope Monga does a bit of research next time and looks for the stats of the best in the business after this rule came in to play. Check Binga's strike rate for example and have a chat to him around why he's not finding the yorkers as destructive when there's no reverse swing.

  • POSTED BY SyedArbabAhmed on | March 6, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    Yorkers can't be replaced but you need an exponent to do it.

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | March 6, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    Batsmen are definitely better at handling yorkers these days. Thanks to the two new ball rules they have become even more useless as reverse swing is almost non-existent. It is a real farce that every once in a while MCC introduces a rule that tips the balance of the game heavily in favor of the English!

  • POSTED BY SL_kamal on | March 6, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Two new balls is the reason. Simple as that.

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | March 6, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    Wasim and Waqar are legends of the inswinging yorker. I would love to see those days again.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | March 6, 2012, 3:49 GMT

    I am unable to understand that how people suppose that Virat Kohli has become some master batsman just after few good innings. Kohli was a sitting duck along with all his mates in England. Please leave the poor man alone and let him play his game. All this hype from Indian fans is always pre-mature. Indian media feeds on fantacy.Tendulya who has never won anything for India is their God. Waqar Younis did get hit by Jadeja for a few on his day but so what? Saeed Anwar did hit Kumble for 27 runs in an over including three sixes..Does it make Kumble a bad bowler? What about Harbhajan who went for 5 sixes in a test match against Afridi? These are all good bowlers who ended up getting punished by a better batsman on a given day. Waqar Younis had superb yorker that no batsman in the world could ever played..This Include Tendulya who was clean bowled for 15 by Waqar in his first test match and ended up breaking his nose in the next...and then avoided playing two best bowlers of decade!

  • POSTED BY Darkmanx12155 on | March 6, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    drop malinga.... ..........

  • POSTED BY Kays789 on | March 6, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    @Viz-from-OZ: spot on mate! couldnt agree with you more. monga's articles have been tedious and downright partisan sometimes. that his penchant for sensationalism in his articles goes unnoticed by cricinfo is incredible.

  • POSTED BY teo. on | March 6, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    I am a fast bowler when I do get round to playing, and bowling a quick swinging yorker and watching the batsmen stumble trying to save his toes, gave me as much joy as taking a wicket!! I found more batsmen complemented a great yorker than a regular wicket.. but im just talking about regular club games, not internationals.

  • POSTED BY Viz-from-OZ on | March 5, 2012, 22:09 GMT

    Think we need to diversify the reporter pool at Cricinfo. I've read quite a few below the belt yorkers from Monga in the last few weeks and starting to wonder if some of these guys can be objective in what they write when "India" is not doing well. We're seeing some wonderful cricket played by the Australians & the Sri Lankans in this series and it's disappointing to see these fellows trying to insinuate negative things about players. Media is a powerful tool and I don't believe Malinga should be subjected to cheap analysis based on a different bowlers experience.

  • POSTED BY Viz-from-OZ on | March 6, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    Did any of you see Malinga bowling his yorkers on one leg yesterday? It's more to do with the two new balls than anything, hope Monga does a bit of research next time and looks for the stats of the best in the business after this rule came in to play. Check Binga's strike rate for example and have a chat to him around why he's not finding the yorkers as destructive when there's no reverse swing.

  • POSTED BY SyedArbabAhmed on | March 6, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    Yorkers can't be replaced but you need an exponent to do it.

  • POSTED BY maddy20 on | March 6, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    Batsmen are definitely better at handling yorkers these days. Thanks to the two new ball rules they have become even more useless as reverse swing is almost non-existent. It is a real farce that every once in a while MCC introduces a rule that tips the balance of the game heavily in favor of the English!

  • POSTED BY SL_kamal on | March 6, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Two new balls is the reason. Simple as that.

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | March 6, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    Wasim and Waqar are legends of the inswinging yorker. I would love to see those days again.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | March 6, 2012, 3:49 GMT

    I am unable to understand that how people suppose that Virat Kohli has become some master batsman just after few good innings. Kohli was a sitting duck along with all his mates in England. Please leave the poor man alone and let him play his game. All this hype from Indian fans is always pre-mature. Indian media feeds on fantacy.Tendulya who has never won anything for India is their God. Waqar Younis did get hit by Jadeja for a few on his day but so what? Saeed Anwar did hit Kumble for 27 runs in an over including three sixes..Does it make Kumble a bad bowler? What about Harbhajan who went for 5 sixes in a test match against Afridi? These are all good bowlers who ended up getting punished by a better batsman on a given day. Waqar Younis had superb yorker that no batsman in the world could ever played..This Include Tendulya who was clean bowled for 15 by Waqar in his first test match and ended up breaking his nose in the next...and then avoided playing two best bowlers of decade!

  • POSTED BY Darkmanx12155 on | March 6, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    drop malinga.... ..........

  • POSTED BY Kays789 on | March 6, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    @Viz-from-OZ: spot on mate! couldnt agree with you more. monga's articles have been tedious and downright partisan sometimes. that his penchant for sensationalism in his articles goes unnoticed by cricinfo is incredible.

  • POSTED BY teo. on | March 6, 2012, 0:43 GMT

    I am a fast bowler when I do get round to playing, and bowling a quick swinging yorker and watching the batsmen stumble trying to save his toes, gave me as much joy as taking a wicket!! I found more batsmen complemented a great yorker than a regular wicket.. but im just talking about regular club games, not internationals.

  • POSTED BY Viz-from-OZ on | March 5, 2012, 22:09 GMT

    Think we need to diversify the reporter pool at Cricinfo. I've read quite a few below the belt yorkers from Monga in the last few weeks and starting to wonder if some of these guys can be objective in what they write when "India" is not doing well. We're seeing some wonderful cricket played by the Australians & the Sri Lankans in this series and it's disappointing to see these fellows trying to insinuate negative things about players. Media is a powerful tool and I don't believe Malinga should be subjected to cheap analysis based on a different bowlers experience.

  • POSTED BY whoker on | March 5, 2012, 21:57 GMT

    Where have all the good writers gone? Enough said !!!

  • POSTED BY Nerk on | March 5, 2012, 21:42 GMT

    Variety is important in bowling at the death. You need to make the batsmen think about the ball you are going to bowl next, not know. Having said that, the yorker is the most difficult ball to ball. If you get it just a tiny bit wrong, the ball will become a full toss or half volley, and you'll see it disappear to the boundary. McKay's last over in Perth were Dhoni massacred him was full of yorkers that came out full tosses.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    We need evidence against this notion, time for Monga to bowl! I'm indian but Kiran More down on his knees to a akram yorker in 1992 world cup was a sight! Waqar might be better in reverse but akram was great at spearing the yorkers in.

  • POSTED BY Nadeem1976 on | March 5, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    Two new balls are making huge difference . If you don't have reverse swing you don't have confidence bowling those yorkers. Old ball grips well in the hand and on the pitch and swing reverse in the air. Make it easy to bowl in swing yorkers.

    I totally agree with Akram that it takes 2 to 3 times more effort to bowl a perfect yorker and with this long series and no rest bowler like malinga can get tired and cannot bowl with full energy.

  • POSTED BY CandidIndian on | March 5, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    With two new balls in use now, its difficult to reverse the ball like before. Hence bowling yorkers has become risky,with all those heavy and strong bats used these days there is no margin for error.

  • POSTED BY ProdigyA on | March 5, 2012, 17:10 GMT

    It is plain simple. SL without Malinga is equal to Bangladesh. If he fires they win if not pusssss...

  • POSTED BY cric_roch on | March 5, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    I think big boundaries in Australia are giving bowlers a bit more secure feel in going with length balls.Also more chance of batsmen being caught. On other hand even precise yorker may result in 2 runs since fielders are way far compared to other places.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    Kohli's flick of his toes for a boundary at a perfect yorker bowled by Malinga still lingers in my mind, even after so many days. Those are the plays, when a 73 year old man like me feel running into the field like a teenager,and congratulating both the bowler and the batsmen. A fantastic sight in cricket! A tussle of the highest order between real talents in bowling and batting!

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    Personally enjoyed Waqar younis' yorkers more than the yorkers bowled by Akram... Waqar Younis was a genius at bowling 'em!!

  • POSTED BY SachinIsAGoner on | March 5, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    Malinga against India 7.4-0-96-1

    That's Malinga for you...

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    Malinga = Yorker King, but yes even he hasn't been as consistent with the yorker in this series

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    I would say that Malinga is not bowling at his best bcoz he is preserving himself for MI in IPL. It would not be very difficult to bowl 10 odd yorkers in a match when he is being paid cool money precisely for that.

  • POSTED BY Balumekka on | March 5, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Those who see Malinga's poor run in some of the Matches in CB have to feel for him. Yoker becomes less effective when swing is not there. Malinga uses reverse swing more than the conventional swing. The two new ball rule clearly diminish the use of out swing. This affects bowlers like Malinga who do wonders with the reverse swing. So it will take some time for Malinga to adapt to the new situation and to find out a new weapon.

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | March 5, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    The margin for error is definitely much smaller when attempting a yorker but, when batsmen are looking for sixes, even low full tosses can be effective. I guess I don't know just how hard it is to bowl a yorker but, as an England fan, I have despaired at times at the length at which England bowlers seem determined to bowl in limited-overs cricket. What is a great strength in Test cricket is a great weakness in 50-over cricket. I can't explain their success in 20-over cricket that way, but their batting is much more effective over 20 overs and the game is altogether less predictable. In the recent series against Pakistan, the much-maligned Jade Dernbach bowled an in-swinging yorker and it took a wicket. That to me was a sign that he may yet become an effective international limited-overs bowler. If he can develop that skill and use his slower balls more wisely, he may end up just what England hoped he would.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    we can see those toe-crushers in IPL, smaller spells ....

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    I think he saving yorkers for IPL..

  • POSTED BY NALINWIJ on | March 5, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Yorker is the most dangerous bowl in one day cricket and it is exciting to see Malinga do it, I found Vinay Kumar trying to save runs by bowling well outside off stump as boring.When Malinga was bowling to Kohli he took full advantage of yorkers straying on leg stump.Mahela made a huge mistake in moving the fine leg in and conceding 4 fours and rest is history.Yorkers are more effective if it is mixed up.

  • POSTED BY Buggsy on | March 5, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    The problem is, bowling an effective yorker is extremely difficult - a fraction too full or short and it's going to the boundary; there's simply no room for error. Malinga is normally a great yorker bowler but too often this series he's got it wrong and his figures reflect that. And as you've mentioned, good batsmen have found a way around it.

  • POSTED BY pitch_curator on | March 5, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    @ Kiwirocker -- FYI It is the same half-fit Zaheer Khan who was the best bowler in the recent world cup and won the world cup to India in 2011 by bowling excellent death over spells. FYI..it is also the same round armed wonder boy waqar mentioned by you who got thrashed for 44 runs in 2 overs in world cup 96 by Jadeja who stood deep in his crease and played all intended yorkers as half-volleys. The fact of the matter is that predictability of the length and speed of the ball in death overs (even if it is a yorker) is not accetable as modern day batsmen with their superb bats get under it or beside it to get power and elevation. A yorker will remain a yorker only if the batsman stays in his initial position. Once the batsman understands that the bowler is relying only on that ball to stop runs, he will coolly stay inside his crease and whack it over the bowlers head. We are seeing so many of those yester year toe crushing yorkers become half volleys and disappear into the crowds

  • POSTED BY Baundele on | March 5, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    Looking at Malinga, who is capable of bowling 6 yorkers per over, I think some bowlers just want to try too many different things. Batsmen these days score quickly; but yorkers are still the exceptions. You have correctly pointed out that it takes the most effort. The problem of not bowling the yorkers is associated with that fact. When a bowler finds that others are taking wickets by bowling a short and wide delivery, while yorkers are blocked, then they also tend to try different things. They lose concentration and most often get expensive, and lose the match. Malinga is the most recent example.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | March 5, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Another fine article from Monga. I am pleased that you mentioned a real yorker artist Wasim Akram however In my mind there is no doubt that best ever yorkers were bowled by Waqar Younis. Waqar had a banana swininging yorker- Ball will literally chase batsmen's stumps. I recall many Gods and Walls being destroyed by that yorker. Waqar's round arm action made it all too good. Malinga is best of the current lot although Umer Gul does it well too ( especially in T20's) Mention of Zaheer Khan is laughable. Poor man is half fit bowling at 120KMPH. I mean, on anyday Afridi can bowl a better yorker than Zaheer..Before Waqar..It was Ambrose and Garner..They could bowl yorkers from great height..massive challange for batsmen!

  • POSTED BY Hyderabadi_Nawab on | March 5, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    A yorker is a difficult ball to bowl and also to hit. Sometimes a batsman can york hinself depending upon how he moves his feet. So its quite possible that with more bowlers trying for a yorker and batsmen more on the lookout for a yorker especially in the slog overs an intended yorker may turn out to be a low full toss or sometimes a half-volley, while it may actually pitch in the block-hole but the batsman plays a 'squirt' to 3rd manm or worse between his legs to fineleg. All these combinations make it a battle of wits and thats what makes the cricket so interesting. What is pertinent and not touched upon by Mr Monga is the use of the yorker in a test match where the accent is on bouncers. How many batsmen face a yorker as their 1st ball in a test innings!!???

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  • POSTED BY Hyderabadi_Nawab on | March 5, 2012, 9:05 GMT

    A yorker is a difficult ball to bowl and also to hit. Sometimes a batsman can york hinself depending upon how he moves his feet. So its quite possible that with more bowlers trying for a yorker and batsmen more on the lookout for a yorker especially in the slog overs an intended yorker may turn out to be a low full toss or sometimes a half-volley, while it may actually pitch in the block-hole but the batsman plays a 'squirt' to 3rd manm or worse between his legs to fineleg. All these combinations make it a battle of wits and thats what makes the cricket so interesting. What is pertinent and not touched upon by Mr Monga is the use of the yorker in a test match where the accent is on bouncers. How many batsmen face a yorker as their 1st ball in a test innings!!???

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | March 5, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Another fine article from Monga. I am pleased that you mentioned a real yorker artist Wasim Akram however In my mind there is no doubt that best ever yorkers were bowled by Waqar Younis. Waqar had a banana swininging yorker- Ball will literally chase batsmen's stumps. I recall many Gods and Walls being destroyed by that yorker. Waqar's round arm action made it all too good. Malinga is best of the current lot although Umer Gul does it well too ( especially in T20's) Mention of Zaheer Khan is laughable. Poor man is half fit bowling at 120KMPH. I mean, on anyday Afridi can bowl a better yorker than Zaheer..Before Waqar..It was Ambrose and Garner..They could bowl yorkers from great height..massive challange for batsmen!

  • POSTED BY Baundele on | March 5, 2012, 9:12 GMT

    Looking at Malinga, who is capable of bowling 6 yorkers per over, I think some bowlers just want to try too many different things. Batsmen these days score quickly; but yorkers are still the exceptions. You have correctly pointed out that it takes the most effort. The problem of not bowling the yorkers is associated with that fact. When a bowler finds that others are taking wickets by bowling a short and wide delivery, while yorkers are blocked, then they also tend to try different things. They lose concentration and most often get expensive, and lose the match. Malinga is the most recent example.

  • POSTED BY pitch_curator on | March 5, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    @ Kiwirocker -- FYI It is the same half-fit Zaheer Khan who was the best bowler in the recent world cup and won the world cup to India in 2011 by bowling excellent death over spells. FYI..it is also the same round armed wonder boy waqar mentioned by you who got thrashed for 44 runs in 2 overs in world cup 96 by Jadeja who stood deep in his crease and played all intended yorkers as half-volleys. The fact of the matter is that predictability of the length and speed of the ball in death overs (even if it is a yorker) is not accetable as modern day batsmen with their superb bats get under it or beside it to get power and elevation. A yorker will remain a yorker only if the batsman stays in his initial position. Once the batsman understands that the bowler is relying only on that ball to stop runs, he will coolly stay inside his crease and whack it over the bowlers head. We are seeing so many of those yester year toe crushing yorkers become half volleys and disappear into the crowds

  • POSTED BY Buggsy on | March 5, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    The problem is, bowling an effective yorker is extremely difficult - a fraction too full or short and it's going to the boundary; there's simply no room for error. Malinga is normally a great yorker bowler but too often this series he's got it wrong and his figures reflect that. And as you've mentioned, good batsmen have found a way around it.

  • POSTED BY NALINWIJ on | March 5, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Yorker is the most dangerous bowl in one day cricket and it is exciting to see Malinga do it, I found Vinay Kumar trying to save runs by bowling well outside off stump as boring.When Malinga was bowling to Kohli he took full advantage of yorkers straying on leg stump.Mahela made a huge mistake in moving the fine leg in and conceding 4 fours and rest is history.Yorkers are more effective if it is mixed up.

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    I think he saving yorkers for IPL..

  • POSTED BY on | March 5, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    we can see those toe-crushers in IPL, smaller spells ....

  • POSTED BY jmcilhinney on | March 5, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    The margin for error is definitely much smaller when attempting a yorker but, when batsmen are looking for sixes, even low full tosses can be effective. I guess I don't know just how hard it is to bowl a yorker but, as an England fan, I have despaired at times at the length at which England bowlers seem determined to bowl in limited-overs cricket. What is a great strength in Test cricket is a great weakness in 50-over cricket. I can't explain their success in 20-over cricket that way, but their batting is much more effective over 20 overs and the game is altogether less predictable. In the recent series against Pakistan, the much-maligned Jade Dernbach bowled an in-swinging yorker and it took a wicket. That to me was a sign that he may yet become an effective international limited-overs bowler. If he can develop that skill and use his slower balls more wisely, he may end up just what England hoped he would.

  • POSTED BY Balumekka on | March 5, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Those who see Malinga's poor run in some of the Matches in CB have to feel for him. Yoker becomes less effective when swing is not there. Malinga uses reverse swing more than the conventional swing. The two new ball rule clearly diminish the use of out swing. This affects bowlers like Malinga who do wonders with the reverse swing. So it will take some time for Malinga to adapt to the new situation and to find out a new weapon.